A successful surgeon goes off to war, becomes close friends with his dedicated nurse, and returns to his wife a changed man.
Col. Ulysses Johnson (Clark Gable) is on a ship returning from the European war, but he does not want to tell his story to a reporter. He recalls where he was in 1941.
Dr. Johnson is in charge of surgery at the local hospital. Dr. Robert Sunday (John Hodiak) wants to talk to him about helping the malaria cases on the poor side of town, but Dr. Johnson says he is too busy buying golf clubs with his wife Penny (Anne Baxter). At home the delivery man Monkevickz (Cameron Mitchell) asks Dr. Johnson if he would examine his knee so that he could get into the Canadian army.
Johnson has enlisted as a major, and he apologizes to Robert for not reading the files he borrowed. Robert is staying and says that he has been helping those in desperate need for a long time while Johnson did not care and has only joined up now because it is "the thing to do." Robert hopes that this experience will change him.
Johnson and Penny say goodbye, and he goes through basic training. On a ship deck Johnson is sitting and talking with Lt. Col. Silver (Ray Collins), but Lt. McCall, who is called "Snapshot," keeps interrupting with her controversial opinions. Her husband fought as a pilot in China seven years before but was killed, and she has a young son.
Dr. Johnson learns that Snapshot is his nurse but soon finds she is the best nurse he ever had. They operate in a field hospital, and after each battle they work very long hours helping the wounded. After an especially long stint they are too tired to sleep, and she brings him coffee. Snapshot begins calling him "Useless," and they become pals. Johnson writes home to his wife regularly and tells her about Snapshot. Johnson and Snapshot go to a Roman bath and take turns bathing and guarding. Penny tells her mother (Gladys Cooper) that she is getting jealous.
Johnson takes care of wounded Monkevickz, but he dies because he also had malaria and hookworm. Johnson writes Penny and asks her to visit Monkevickz's father. There she sees Robert, and they talk about Johnson.
Snapshot is being transferred, and she says goodbye to Johnson. He gets leave and goes to Paris. There he sees Snapshot, and they dance. They learn that their unit is in serious trouble. She insists on going with him because she is on a week's leave. They pull the jeep off the road and hide as German tanks go by. The jeep gets stuck, and they have to stay the night in an abandoned building.
Johnson is returning on the ship to New York, and then Penny meets him at the airport. He was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge and is using a cane. He is glad to be back in his beautiful home and greets her mother and the servants. He tells Penny he is tired, but the next day they talk. He says he has changed and tells her how Snapshot was wounded and died. Penny is glad that she is needed again.
This drama explores the personal impact of the war both
on those who went and those who stayed home. The influence of
Robert and Snapshot deepen Johnson, and his experience helps him
to become wiser and more compassionate.